Every pregnancy carries a certain degree of risk to the woman’s health and life, with some incurring a more serious risk than others. It is every woman’s prerogative to choose how much risk she is willing to take to carry a pregnancy to term. This must be supported by consultation with doctors of her choice who provide impartial and factual information.
Six years ago, the Women’s Rights Foundation successfully campaigned for the introduction of emergency contraception by filing a judicial protest on behalf of 102 women in Malta.
Since then, we never looked back, and we are now taking our advocacy for sexual and reproductive rights to the courts of law once again.
We are standing here, together with the organisations that form the coalition ‘Voice for Choice’ and other supporters, on behalf of one hundred and eighty-eight (188) persons of childbearing age, who could all potentially get pregnant, who have just filed a judicial protest against the Minister of Health, the Parliamentary Secretary for Equality and Reforms and the State Advocate for breaching their fundamental human rights.
Abortion bans do not change the fact that abortion is a necessary health service and banning abortion does not stop it from happening.
In fact, as we know all too well, every day, a woman in Malta has an abortion, yet we remain the only nation in the EU that criminalises these women and does not allow the procedure to take place safely and legally, irrespective of the circumstances.
This blatant violation of human rights by the state, comes at the cost of women’s physical, mental, and social health as women continue to live in fear, stigma, and shame in our society.
Among us, the one hundred and eighty-eight (188) persons who have signed this judicial protest are persons who have had an abortion, for various circumstances, in various countries and using various methods, some less safe than others.
Among us there are also persons who had to go through a forced pregnancy, at the detriment to their physical or mental health.
Among us there are persons who were raped or sexually abused and were terrified that a pregnancy would result from that abuse, knowing full well that instead of finding support, they would find condemnation if they had an abortion.
Among us there are also persons who have health conditions who live with the fear that an accidental pregnancy could have serious implications for their wellbeing.
We, the one hundred and eighty-eight persons who have signed this judicial protest come from all walks of life with ages that vary from 18 to 50.
There are those among us who are mothers who want a better future for their children, while some of us are young and are looking towards a brighter future. This is an issue that transcends age.
There are those among us who are professionals: teachers, lawyers, social workers, psychologists, doctors and nurses, while some of us are students, labourers, and home makers. This is an issue that transcends social class.
There are those among us who identify as lesbian women, gender non-binary persons or trans men. This is an issue for the LGBT community too.
There are those among us who have a disability whether visible or not. This is an issue for persons with disabilities too.
There are those among us who come from countries where women are persecuted daily and hoped to find a better life in a developed European country and instead were faced with a different kind of persecution. This is an issue for migrant communities too.
There are those among us who support the Labour Party, those who support the Nationalist party, those who support ADPD or Volt, and those among us who have no political affiliation. Because this issue transcends political beliefs and allegiances.
In the last decades Malta has made great strides to be a more inclusive society. The current government prides itself of this fact. It is therefore time that the laws related to abortion are addressed to reflect the reality of people’s lives. Women, girls and any person who could become pregnant who needs to terminate their pregnancy for any reason are not second-class citizens.
We are therefore here to ensure that all persons who could get pregnant, irrespective of their gender, ethnicity, sexuality, social class, religious or political beliefs, ability or age are supported, respected and protected whatever their circumstances and decisions.
The political class of this country had every chance to do what is right and our pleas have been ignored for too long. We are pledging today that this judicial protest is only the first step. We are ready to take our battle to the courts of law, both local and European, and we will be heard. We will not be ignored. Not anymore.
This press release is endorsed by the following organisations:
Sitt snin ilu, il-Fondazzjoni għad-Drittijiet tan-Nisa nediet b’suċċess kampanja għall-introduzzjoni ta’ kontraċezzjoni ta’ emerġenza permezz ta’ protest ġudizzjarju f’isem mija u żewġ nisa f’Malta.
Minn dak iż-żmien ‘l hawn, qatt ma ħarisna lura, u issa qed nerġgħu nirrikorru għall-qorti fl-attiviżmu tagħna.
Qegħdin hawn, flimkien mal-għaqdiet li jiffurmaw il-koalizzjoni ‘Voice for Choice’ u attivisti oħra, f’isem mija u tmienja u tmenin (188) persuna, li kollha potenzjalment jistgħu joħorġu tqal, li għadhom kif ressqu protest ġudizzjarju kontra l- Ministru tas-Saħħa, is-Segretarja Parlamentari għall-Ugwaljanza u Riformi u l-Avukat tal-Istat għall-ksur tad-drittijiet umani fundamentali tagħna.
Il-projbizzjoni tal-abort ma tbiddilx il-fatt li l-abort huwa servizz tas-saħħa bżonnjuż u l-liġi tal-abort ma twaqqfux milli jseħħ.
Fil-fatt, kif nafu sew, kuljum, mara f’Malta tagħmel abort, u Malta hi l-uniku pajjiż fl-UE li tikkriminalizza lil dawn in-nisa u ma tħallix il-proċedura ssir b’mod sigur u legali, irrispettivament miċ- ċirkostanzi.
Dan il-ksur sfaċċat tad-drittijiet umani mill-istat, iseħħ għall-iskapitu tas-saħħa fiżika, mentali u soċjali tan-nisa hekk kif in-nisa jkomplu jgħixu fil-biża’, l-istigma u l-mistħija fis-soċjetà tagħna.
Fostna, il-mija u tmienja u tmenin (188) persuna li ffirmaw dan il-protest ġudizzjarju hemm persuni li għamlu abort għal raġunijiet varji, f’pajjiżi varji, f’ċirkustanzi varji, uħud iktar siguri minn oħrajn.
Fostna hemm ukoll persuni li kellhom jgħaddu minn tqala sfurzata għad-detriment tas-saħħa fiżika u mentali tagħhom
Xi wħud minna ġew stuprati jew abbużati sesswalment u kienu mwerwrin li joħorġu tqal minn dak l-abbuż, meta kienu jafu sew li minflok ħa jsibu appoġġ, se jsibu kundanna jekk jagħmlu abort.
Fostna hemm ukoll persuni b’kundizzjoni ta’ saħħa li jgħixu bil-biża’ li tqala aċċidentali jista’ jkollha implikazzjonijiet serji għal saħħithom.
Aħna, il-mija u tmienja u tmenin (188) persuna li ffirmajna dan il-protest ġudizzjarju ġejjin minn kull qasam tal-ħajja b’etajiet li jvarjaw minn 18 sa 50 sena.
Fostna hemm dawk li huma ommijiet li jridu futur aħjar għal uliedhom, filwaqt li wħud minna huma żgħar u qed iħarsu lejn futur isbaħ. Din hija kwistjoni li tmur lil hinn mill-età.
Fostna hemm dawk li huma professjonisti: għalliema, avukati, ħaddiema soċjali, psikologi, tobba u infermiera, filwaqt li xi wħud minna huma studenti, ħaddiema, u nisa tad-dar. Din hija kwistjoni li tmur lil hinn mill-klassi soċjali.
Hemm dawk fostna li jidentifikaw bħala nisa lesbjani, persuni gender non-binary jew irġiel trans. Din hija kwistjoni li tolqot lill-komunità LGBT ukoll.
Hemm dawk fostna li għandhom diżabilità sew jekk viżibbli jew le. Din hija kwistjoni li tolqot lill-persuni b’diżabbilta’ wkoll.
Xi wħud minna ġejjin minn pajjiżi fejn in-nisa jiġu ppersegwitati kuljum u ġew Malta b’tama li jsibu ħajja aħjar f’pajjiż żviluppat Ewropew u minflok kienu ffaċċjati b’tip differenti ta’ persekuzzjoni. Din hija kwistjoni li tolqot lill-komunitajiet tal-immigranti wkoll.
Fostna hemm min jappoġġja lill-Partit Laburista, min jappoġġja lill-partit Nazzjonalista, min jappoġġja lill-ADPD u lil Volt, u min fostna li m’għandux affiljazzjoni politika. Għax din il-kwistjoni li tmur lil hinn mit-twemmin u l-lealtàjiet politiċi.
Matul l-aħħar snin, Malta għamlet passi kbar biex tkun soċjetà aktar inklużiva. Il-gvern attwali jiftaħar b’dan il-fatt. Għalhekk wasal iż-żmien li l-liġijiet relatati mal-abort jiġu indirizzati biex jirriflettu r-realtà tal-ħajja kurrenti. In-nisa, il-bniet u kull persuna li tista’ tinqabad tqila li għandhom bżonn jitterminaw it-tqala għal kwalunkwe raġuni mhumiex ċittadini tat-tieni klassi.
Għalhekk qegħdin hawn biex niżguraw li l-persuni kollha li jistgħu joħorġu tqal, irrispettivament mis-sess, l-etniċità, is-sesswalità, it-twemmin reliġjuż jew politiku, l-abbilta’, il-klassi soċjali jew l-età tagħhom ikunu appoġġjati, rispettati u protetti jkunu xi jkunu ċ-ċirkostanzi u d-deċiżjonijiet tagħhom.
Il-klassi politika ta’ dan il-pajjiż kellhom kull ċans li jagħmlu dak li hu sewwa u t-talbiet tagħna ilhom jiġu injorati. Illum qed inwiegħdu li dan il-protest ġudizzjarju huwa biss l-ewwel pass. Aħna lesti nieħdu l-battalja tagħna quddiem il-qrati, kemm lokali kif ukoll Ewropej. Daqshekk ġejna njorati. Wasal iż-żmien li ninstemgħu.
Din l-istqarrija għall-istampa hi approvata minn dawn l-organizzazzjonijiet:
On the 23rd June 12 NGOs and civil society organisations, including aditus foundation, sent a letter to our 6 MEPs asking them to support and vote in favour of the Matić Report. This Report on the situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU, in the frame of women’s health was presented for approval to the European Parliament by MEP Predrag Matić on the 24th June 2021.
All the review documents (State Report, List of Issues, Civil Society Input, List of Delegation, Concluding Observations) may be found on the OHCHR site, under Malta.
What are Concluding Observations?
Malta is required to submit regular state reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on how rights provided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child are implemented. Following an analysis of these reports and of the shadow reports presented by interested entities, the CRC adopted Concluding Observations on Malta wherein it presented its concerns and recommendations.
Concluding Observations should be widely publicised in the State party as they serve as a basis for national debates on the improvement in the enjoyment by children of their fundamental human rights. Malta is also expected to follow up the recommendations provided in the Concluding Observations, as these will be looked at in the Committee’s next review.
What did the Committee on the Rights of the Child say about Malta?
Several topics were addressed by the Committee, including the allocation of resources, cooperation with civil society, children’s rights and the business sector, civil rights and freedoms, family environment and alternative care, disability, basic health and welfare, violence, non-discrimination, leisure and cultural activities, special protection measures and administration of juvenile justice. The Committee based its Concluding Observations on national and shadow reports, as summed up in our first article focusing on reports submitted by civil society organizations and other stakeholders.